That was School of Music graduate Alexander Nam Nguyễn (’22 BM, Music Education) at the UW’s 2022 Commencement ceremony, leading College of Arts and Sciences undergraduates into Husky Stadium as one of six banner carriers, or gonfalonieres, representing the College. Nguyễn was recognized for exemplifying the College’s core values of excellence, inquiry, community, accountability, integrity, and citizenship.
The Music Education graduate was nominated for the honor by his teacher, Professor Giselle Wyers, who became acquainted with the multi-talented student during his four years as a member of her ensemble, the University of Washington Chorale. “He has been one of the most loyal, engaged, and talented members of my ensemble for four years, including during the extremely challenging Covid years where he sang in a parking garage octet," Wyers wrote in recommending that Nguyễn be the School of Music's nominee for the distinction.
“Alex composed a work blending jazz and classical styles for the 65 members of UW Chorale and taught them to sing it on Zoom in virtual sectionals, culminating in a beautiful final product that students cherished during a time when most of them could not even leave their homes,” Wyers wrote. “He then composed a second a cappella anthem, “Freedom Comes,” on the theme of social justice and personal freedom that was featured in our first live in-person concert in Fall 2021.” The work also was performed in June by Cantabile, a youth choir for high-school aged singers operated by Columbia Choirs of Metropolitan Seattle.
Since graduating from UW in June, Nguyễn has begun teaching choir at Beaver Lake Middle School and Maywood Middle School in the Issaquah School district. His UW education, he says, has prepared him well for this work.
Wyers has no doubt Nguyễn will excel as a music teacher, as he has in many others since she has known him.
“Alex is a very strong teacher who I have observed in rehearsal multiple times as our tenor section leader in Chorale and in UW Chorale methods class,” she shares. “He has a compassionate, generous spirit bringing seemingly unbounding optimism, hope, and joy into his work. He is also extremely modest; it was only in his final weeks in school that he shared with me that he works as a professional jazz pianist at one of the top restaurants in Seattle.” That’s right, in addition to his other accomplishments, Nguyễn may also be seen performing piano jazz at Seattle’s elite Canlis restaurant most Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m.
“Alex is a student who gives as much or more than he receives in any professional environment,” Wyers says. “I am very excited to follow his career as it unfolds in the years to come.”